Monday, 31 December 2012

Moraea -- The Peacock

"Moraea villora", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Moraea villosa is a species of peacock moraea, a group of plants named for the large, conspicuous eye-like patterns on the broad outer petals of the flowers, like those found on the feathers of a peacock.

Two subspecies are recognised; M. v. villosa has purple, blue, pink or whitish petals, while the flowers of M. v. elandsmontana are bright orange. The eye-shaped patterns consist of a green to blue or nearly black iridescent crescent, encircling a cream to orange ‘eye’, which is covered with long hairs. This entire shape is usually edged in dark violet, yellow or orange. Each stem bears one to five flowers, and has a solitary, narrow leaf, that is hairy on the underside.

Moraea villosa flowers from August until September.  The delicate flowers open sequentially, with only one flower open at a time. Each flower blooms for only two days, opening in late morning and remaining open until the early afternoon of the following day.

The genus Moraea was first described as Morea in honour of the English botanist Robert More (1703–1780), but Linnaeus later changed the name to Moraea after the surname of his wife, Elisabeth Moraea and father-in-law, Johan Moraeus.  Moraea villosa is named for its hairy stems and leaves (villous meaning hairy or shaggy), the distinguishing feature of this species.

The peacock moraea formerly participated in great abundance in the mass spring flower displays of the South African Cape lowlands. This attractive flower has however lost more than eighty per cent of its habitat to wheat fields and urban expansion, and only a few populations remain in isolated fragments.


"Moraea villora (colours inverted)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Here is the same drawing after the inversion of its colours.  As is often the case, I cannot decide which version I prefer! 

The original and the inverted copies are part of my contribution to the web site on Inversionism (see below).

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INVERSIONISM

You may recall my telling you about an invitation I received back in August or September to participate in a web site on the art movement of Inversionism.  As it says on their home page,
"The quintessence of Inversionism is taking the potential of any characteristic of an image to its limits to the point when it is flipped upside down beyond the event horizon of things.... Inversionism is a way to cope with the monotonous totality of both abstract art and realism and its forms. It is thus a radical escape from these modes of art; it is radical because it strives to retain the 'realistic' framework of an image while turning upside down some of its characteristics, a twist towards abstraction."
I am now listed among their participants with my particular approach toward Inversionism.  Take a look.  Their address is http://inversionism.com/index.htm

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BRADEN'S FIRST CHRISTMAS

Here are some photos of Braden taken Christmas morning, 2012 -- 6 months old and his very first Christmas!

Braden looks a bit overwhelmed by all these gifts!


Now he is starting to loosen up and get into the spirit of things!



[I love this photo]  He looks a bit overwhelmed still but his expression seems to me to show a happy innocence that belongs to
the very young and the very young at heart.

  
Finally, this sweet boy, feeling a bit tired perhaps, has settled down with his favourite gift of the moment:  Christmas ribbon!
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My "Coming Home" Story

NOTE: Some portions of this story have been changed or combined or even partly fabricated in an effort to tell the story in a way that makes sense, provides anonymity for certain people and, particularly, to refrain from attempting to explain those events in the spiritual life which are simply unexplainable


Headed towards Convocation Hall on the
day I graduated from university!  I am one
happy lady!!
 Why would spending time in prayer before a metal box and a burning candle bring me back to repentance and acceptance? What is really going on here?

It happens because of what I believe that "metal box" contains. Reposing within that golden container are pieces of consecrated bread -- simple, unleavened bread – now radically changed.

An ordained Catholic priest, a priest who can trace his lineage all the way back to the first apostles, has said the words of consecration, the words given to us by Jesus, over this bread and changed it from simple bread to the very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Perhaps this bread was consecrated at the morning Mass, a few hours earlier, and was "left over" after all the people at the Mass had received Holy Communion. This precious, priceless bread, bread now in appearance only, is locked into a golden box while the candle in the red glass holder continues to burn brightly. It is available to take to the sick and the dying. "Give us this day, our daily bread" is a petition that can be only fully answered by this new “manna”.

By 1976, I was taking a break from teaching. Instead, I was employed by an Anglican organization working with “street people” in Hamilton, Ontario. Upon moving to Hamilton, I had discovered the “charismatic renewal” and was now actively participating in a large Catholic Charismatic prayer group each week as a member of the music ministry.

Although I was attending a high-church Anglican service every Sunday with some wonderful, faith-filled Anglicans, I had started sneaking into a Catholic Church each afternoon on my way home from work (I use the word “sneaking” because I was very careful to try to make certain that none of my friends saw me entering or leaving the church!). During this time, I finally began to realize that I was reaching a point of no return. Deep down I knew it was time – I had to keep my promise I had made to God in Birmingham 15 years earlier.

Finally, the tension became too much. I knew I had to take action and I knew I needed to act quickly. So, choosing a day later that week I did what I felt was necessary:

  • I gave notice at work,
  • Called a Catholic priest with whom I was good friends and set up an appointment for the next day and
  • Begin to cautiously announce to family and friends that I was going to become a Roman Catholic.

By the end of that day I had burned all my bridges so that I really felt I had no way back. This seemed the better way as by now I knew how easily I could lose courage and fearfully turn back.  Even so, I couldn't stop myself from thinking that night "what have I done, dear Lord, what have I done?"

(to be continued)
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SUKI AND SALLIE


Do you think Suki is trying to tell me something?
Maybe like I should turn up the thermostat?
Suki is feeling very cold these days -- poor kitty cat.
She has been telling me about this for the past several days now and seems to be quite disturbed that I don't seem to be doing anything about it!

She no longer wants to sleep in her "crow's nest" bed because it is too close to the window.  However, if I move her condo away from the window, she complains because now she cannot get from her bed to the window sill to watch the pigeons!

The worst part of all this is that she seems to feel that my big easy chair is the best place to sleep during this cold weather!  Thus, almost every time I go to sit in my comfortable chair, there is a big black, furry ball occupying it.  Have you ever tried to move a 13.5 lb. cat who is sleepy and does not want to be moved?  It is like trying to pick up molasses with your bare hands!

I did try turning up the thermostat, but then I got too warm while Suki seemed very content.  So, either she has got to get used to wearing a jacket or I have got to get used to having 13.5 lbs. of cat sleeping on me whenever I want to sit in my chair.  Having a cat on your lap sounds all cozy and warm, but let me tell you -- that much "dead" weight gets awfully heavy after about 30 minutes and then there is the ordeal I must go through each time I need to get up for something!  Ah, the saga continues....

Now, as for me, I continue to do about the same -- with one exception -- I have suddenly developed a deep cough in my lungs -- I rattle now whenever I breathe deeply.  I am not uncomfortable, yet, but I have a feeling that there may be a lot of coughing in my near future!  Fortunately, Suki is not like my former cat, miz k.d.  As you may recall, she would run and hide whenever she heard me clearing my throat.  When I actually coughed, she would disappear for about an hour before coming out of hiding!


Well, dear friends, the New Year is almost here.  Tonight at midnight we change over to 2013.  I plan to change all my calendars today.  Not only do I have the calendars I made as gifts and for people to buy, I also have my traditional calendars -- like the Polish calendar I always like to receive from my friend, Grazyna.  As well, there is the photo calendar from my nephew and his family which includes photos of my sister and her husband, their children and grandchildren.  I will reflect on the year passed and the year to come.

For those of us who are Catholic, New Year's Day is also the Feast of Mary, Mother of God.  What a wonderful way to begin the New Year.   May Our Blessed Mother watch over us all and keep us close to her Son all the days of the coming year.

Dona nobis pacem.  Peace.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Feast Days of Christmas

Icon, "The Stoning of St. Stephen", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer
 The 12 days of Christmas, beginning on the 25th of December and taking us up to the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th, are filled with saints' feast days as well.  So these 12 days are truly a time for rejoicing and celebrating.

On the 26th of December, the Church celebrated the Feast of St. Stephen (the proto- (or first) martyr).  I know for a fact that I have told you my St. Stephen story before, but just in case you have forgotten, here it is again. 

When I was in the Holy Land for the second time, I was determined to visit the Church of St. Stephen on one of the days that the tour group had a few free hours. Everyone else seemed to want to rest or shop, but I knew where I wanted to go and so using my trusty pilgrim's map, I made my way to the Church of St. Stephen.  It is supposedly built on the spot where he was stoned to death.

After spending some time praying in the church, I went out onto the grounds around the church. I was actually looking for shade as it was a very hot day in April. Suddenly I saw a lovely stone lying on a pile of stones and I went over to pick it up. My plan was to take the stone as a souvenir. As I picked it up, I was cut on my finger by another rock with sharp edges that was lying just under the one I wanted. The cut was small but deep and begin to bleed profusely. I stood there watching my blood stain the rocks around me and actually felt blessed. I was shedding a little of my blood right where St. Stephen had bled to death from deep cuts made by the sharp rocks that had been thrown at him. Ever since then, I have felt a real sense of friendship with the first martyr of the Christian Church.


Icon "The Beloved Disciple, St. John", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

Today, the 27th of December, is the Feast of St. John the Beloved Disciple.  The only icons I have ever done that include St. John are mostly group drawings of the apostles except for this one.  I was drawn to draw this one after meditating for some time on the wonderful fact that St. John, while leaning on the chest of Christ Jesus at the Last Supper, would have been able to hear His Sacred Heart beating as He talked to the apostles about what was to come and what it all meant.  Although none of them seemed to understand it at the time, I really believe that it was this experience that gave St. John the grace he needed to stay with Jesus and His blessed mother until the very end. 

Just a note to let you know that preparing for this posting has given me the desire to actually do an icon of St. John.




Icon "Blessed Rachel Weeping", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

Then, tomorrow is the Feast of the Holy Innocents.  The Church has always taught that these precious children (2 years and under) who were slaughtered by King Herod in an attempt to destroy Jesus, were the first to die for their Saviour.

I have never felt drawn to begin working on this particular icon as it is such a tragic event.  These days, as you may be aware, this feast is especially meaningful to those in the Pro-Life movement and the relationship is easily seen with just a bit of reflection.

In the readings for tomorrow, the Gospel is from Matthew 2:13-18.  In reading about the aftermath of the killing of the innocent children in Bethlehem, we find this passage:
"Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:  a voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled because they were no more."
And so, the Church (and Rachel) are still weeping even today over the continued slaughter of innocent, vulnerable babies.


Icon "The Boy Jesus memorizing the Prophecy of Isaiah", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer
 Saturday, as is true of every Saturday is a day for remembering Our Lady in a special way. 

There is also an optional feast on the 29th for the martyr St. Thomas à Becket.  I remember what an impact the movie, "Becket" had on me back in the 60s -- especially as this was during the time I was trying to keep from becoming a Catholic myself!  That movie really made me suffer...


Icon "Holy Family, Sweet Tenderness", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

Then on Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family -- such an important concept in this day and age when the family is under constant attack.
 
Above you see my favourite icon of the Holy Family.  It has a subtitle of "sweet tenderness" simply because of the loving looks on the faces of Mary and Joseph. 

On New Year's Eve, the 31st, there is no big feast scheduled; however, there is an optional feast for St. Sylvester, a pope in the early 300s.  A little known saint these days, he was once important enough for the Polish people to use his name as part of their language.  How do you say "new year's eve" in Polish? -- the answer:  Sylvester!

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MORE FROM CORPUS CHRISTI PARISH IN DETROIT

Corpus Christi continues to use my icons as part of their Advent and Christmas celebrations.  They have been able to get really excellent printing results even with such large size posters.  I am really excited to know that such printing is possible.

Below you can see the 4 icons that they had printed to use starting on Christmas Day.  You should recognize them as two were used in my Rosary book, one was last year's Christmas card icon while the other is the one for this year.

Corpus Christi Church decorated for Christmas using 4 of my icons

Close up of two of the four icons




Close up of the other two icons with silver decorations hanging in front of them



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MORE BRADEN:  A morality tale about Christmas Spirits!


BRADEN:  "Hey, this Christmas celebrating stuff is lots of fun!  I get lots of attention from the ladies!!  Plus there is lots of good food and plenty to drink.  Hey, Pal, fix me another bottle, will ya?  Thanks."


FRIEND:  "Hey, Braden, are you sure you are OK to be driving home?  You've been drinking a lot of milk!"
BRADEN:  Hey, Pal... No problem.  I'm in great shape!


BRADEN:  "Well, perhaps I not in such great shape after all.  How about I stay here for the night?"
FRIEND:  Good idea, Braden.  The sofa is a great place to sleep!  It's all yours, Buddy.

REMEMBER:  NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE

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My "Coming Home" Story


NOTE: Some portions of this story have been changed or combined or even partly fabricated in an effort to tell the story in a way that makes sense and, particularly, to refrain from attempting to explain those events in the spiritual life which are simply unexplainable.

Sallie, first year of university
(continued from previous posting)
I wish I could say that it was that simple and that I was able to keep the promise I made that day to the Lord, but as we all know, life is never simple.

The powerful resistance of my family and friends combined with my own lack of courage made me start to back away from following what I now believed to be a call from the Truth, Himself.  Plus my own inclination toward the things of this world seemed to become even stronger than ever before. I could blame these things for my failure to keep my word, but the truth is I simply did not trust God enough to walk in faith, accepting the rejection threatened by family and friends, following Him where I knew He wanted to lead me.

So, all these things combined eventually prevented my keeping that promise until 15 more years had passed. Like so many people, I even tried to comprise with God – I became a high-Church Episcopalian (Anglican)* but I always felt as though I was a phony because deep down I truly believed that God had called me into the Catholic Church, not some substitute. I did go and read the 6th chapter of St. John’s Gospel – many times -- and then tried to convince myself that the Anglican Eucharist was truly the body and blood of Jesus.  Sadly, I have never had that same experience of the reality of God's presence anywhere other than before the Tabernacle in a Catholic Church.

Nothing really worked and although I tried my very best to make it work, I finally drifted away and started making up my own religious doctrine that fit the lifestyle I wanted to live. Through everything, however, I was never able to forgot that day in St. Paul's Co-Cathedral with Loretta and the absolute sense of the reality of Christ’s presence.

In fact, that event has remained so real for me that even during the times since becoming a Catholic when it has seemed so difficult to follow the teachings of Christ -- or when I would be angry with God for what He was asking me to accept -- I would always be brought back to repentance if I allowed myself to spend some time in prayer before Our Lord Jesus Christ, truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar.  Kneeling there before the Tabernacle with the red light flickering above, I would once again hear Jesus speaking my name, telling me that He loved me no matter what I had or hadn't done.  How could I help but feel my heart brought to true sorrow and repentance.

Why would spending time in prayer before a metal box and a burning candle bring me back to repentance and acceptance? What is really going on here?

(to be continued)
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*I pray that my comments will not offend Anglicans as I am simply describing my feelings and beliefs; not the reality of the Anglican Christian tradition.  I know many Anglicans (Episcopalians) who are people of deep faith and whose lives, I am sure, are pleasing to God.  Please remember that I am describing my own spiritual journey only.

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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki with a lovely, young friend who came to visit us
during Christmas. As usual, Suki looks a bit
unhappy about having her photo taken!

 Suki has had a lot of company over Christmas and, in spite of how she looks in this photo, she has enjoyed herself because they have given her lots of attention.

In the photo at the left, Suki had just been getting her head scratched by my young friend -- the stopping of which may be the cause of the sour look on Suki's face!

I have even watched in amazement as Suki has allowed herself to be tugged on by a young child!  I would never have guessed that she could be patient with children, but she is.  Of course, if a child or anyone hurt her while playing, I cannot imagine that she would not react badly, but, hopefully, this will never occur.  I always try to stay very aware of what is happening when children are playing around her, but thus far she has proven to be a very patient cat!

At the moment, she is finally soundly asleep in her favourite chair.  Although she had a good breakfast, she started begging me for food about 9:30 and kept it up until I finally fed her about noon.  Just another one of those strange behaviours that keep occurring.  Thankfully, she is apparently finally full of food and sound asleep.  It is very difficult to work on my blog posting when there is a cat trying to sit on my keyboard!!

As for me, I am doing about the same although I continue to feel more positive about things now that I know the surgery will be happening in the near future.  The difficulties and discomfort continue unabated; however, it is quite amazing how a wee bit of hope can change your entire outlook. 

This is a situation in which my last of trust has been made evident.  Throughout this entire experience I have received one reassurance after another from God that He was caring for me and that everything would be OK.  But it wasn't until I saw the surgeon last week that I really let myself believe in His promises.  Truly, experiences such as this remind me clearly of how totally dependent I am on the grace of God if I want to accomplish anything that is really good.  How grateful I am for His mercy and patience.

And as we all need prayer, especially the intercession of the saints, let us ask for their prayers as we pray:

Blessed Mary, pray for us.
St. Stephen, pray for us.
St. John the Apostle, pray for us
Holy Innocents, pray for us.
St. Thomas à Becket, pray for us.
Holy Family, pray for us.
St. Pope Sylvester, pray for us.
Amen.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Two More Sleeps!


"A Sure Sign of Christmas", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
I am all ready for Christmas, are you?

First, I have my one traditional Poinsettia.  It was given to me by my friend, Nancy, who shares my birth date.  She brought me such a perfect plant this year that I decided to draw it instead of just photographing it!

These plants, which were found by the Europeans growing wild in Mexico after their invasion in the 1500s, were called "the Christmas Flower" as they bloomed in December.  Some years later, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico had some of the large plants shipped to his home in the Carolinas after finishing his assignment there.  The plants survived and begin to be distributed throughout the southern U.S.  From this time on they were called Poinsettia after the name of the ambassador, Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779 - 1851).


"The Cardinal in the Snow", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

Next, I bring out my artificial male Cardinal who sings his authentic song whenever the sunlight strikes him.  He has become a required part of my Christmas ever since the first year I was no longer able to go to my sister, Betty's, for Christmas in about 1998.  I always associate Cardinals with Christmas as they were always in abundance around my sister's house during Christmas.  Only once was there snow since she lives in North-Central Florida, but the white does go well with the red!  Anyway, when I hear my battery operated Cardinal singing, I remember all those good Christmases and I am grateful.


A Christmas banner entitled "O Holy Night", photo 1



A Christmas banner entitled "O Holy Night", photo 2


And here is an brand new addition to my Christmas preparations -- a beautiful Christmas banner which was given to me this year by my friend, Jessie.  Jessie has a knack for finding some of the most beautiful and unusual Christmas gifts -- all of which have become a part of my Christmas traditions.  I wish you could see this banner as it looks hanging on my wall.  It is just magnificent.

And, finally, comes the most important part of my celebration... 

Baby Jesus and the empty crib
As many of you know from previous years, I have a tradition of putting out only the empty crib with my Nativity set and hiding the Baby Jesus.  At midnight on Christmas Eve, I retrieve the Baby Jesus and with Handel's Messiah playing softly in the background, I gently place the Baby in the crib.  After this, I like to sit for a while and think about that first Christmas and listen to the familiar music of the Messiah.

I wish you all, each and every one, a blessed, joy-filled Christmas.


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Corpus Christi Catholic Community


Below are two photos from the parish in Detroit.  They are using my icons for their Advent celebrations. 

The first photo shows a close-up of the first icon used.  The second photo shows three of the icons hanging in the church following the third Sunday in Advent.  The one remaining icon, which be going up tonight or tomorrow is of the Visitation with an emphasis on St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist.

I am so happy that the icons are being put to good use.  God takes care of everything.

Icon "Holy Prophet Jeremiah" by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer


Icons "Prophet Isaiah", "Holy Prophet Jeremiah" and "St. John the Baptist", all by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer



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BRADEN IS QUITE THE BOY!

Braden is just so precious to me and thanks to the great kindness of his mother, I have been able to see his delightful personality begin to develop.  So much can be discerned in frequent photographs of a growing child as they have not yet learned how to dissemble and hide their true feelings.

In the first photo below, you can see the innocence of Braden as he sleeps so peacefully -- not yet able to do anything seriously wrong and and having no sense of guilt, he can sleep the sleep of the just.

In the second photo below, we can see the delight Braden has in doing something silly that will make his parents laugh -- in this case, he has placed his toy on the top of his head which will make his mother laugh and which, in turn, will make Braden laugh.  Such innocent joy.

All these personality traits that will eventually, with the proper instruction, turn into the virtues that enable us to live a life in which we love God above all else and our neighbour as ourselves.



Such a sweet sleeper!
 


Awake, his look is mischievous as he waits to be noticed for putting his toy on his head!


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My "Coming Home" Story


NOTE:  Some portions of this story have been changed or combined or even partly fabricated in an effort to tell the story in a way that makes sense and, particularly, to refrain from attempting to explain those events in the spiritual life which are simply unexplainable.
"A Moment between Classes"
[My 2nd year teaching at community college]
(continued from Dec. 19th)

The words she next spoke changed my life forever.

Loretta whispered softly: "We believe that Christ is truly present in the bread we share at Mass and any leftover bread is placed in the Tabernacle for the sick and dying. We call this Bread the Blessed Sacrament and we believe that it is really Christ, Incarnate, under the appearance of bread -– body, blood, soul and divinity. It is Christ Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament whom I came to visit today."

A chill went through my whole body and I could not move. Then within the next instant I was flooded with a sense of peace which left me feeling as though I could suddenly see for the first time. Somehow, I suddenly knew, without doubting, that it was Christ who had been watching me and calling me to come to Him. The Resurrection was real. He was alive. He had kept His promise to never leave us alone. He loved me and had made a way to be with me all the days of my life. I was almost overwhelmed by the awareness of His passionate love for me.

Not knowing how I got there, I suddenly found myself kneeling at the altar rail. I did not know how long I had been there, but Loretta later told me that it was only for a few moments. I heard myself whispering “Jesus, I am so grateful to You for revealing Yourself to me through Your Church. I promise I will become a Catholic as quickly as I possibly can so I, too, can receive Your Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity into my body and truly be made whole – gradually formed into Your image and likeness."  For the first time in my life, it seemed that I heard Him saying in response: “I love you, Sallie. Go now and do what you have promised.  I will be with you.”

As Loretta sort of guided me out of the Church, it felt as though I was walking three feet off the ground. Strangely, I was also aware of a niggling within me,  urging me to go and read the 6th chapter of St. John’s Gospel... Although I had memorized a lot of scripture while growing up, I had no memory of what the 6th chapter of St. John was all about. What was it that I would find waiting there for me?
                                                                                               (to be continued)


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SUKI AND SALLIE

Add caption

Well, as usual, Suki is up to something new.  You may recall that in the previous posting I spoke about Suki's behaviour -- that she seemed to be almost hibernating over the past couple of months!  Now that has changed -- just in the past few days.  Let me tell you what is happening now...

Starting the evening of December 21, Suki's behaviour began to change noticeably.  Suddenly she didn't seem so sleepy anymore -- or, even more amazingly, she didn't seem as hungry!  I don't know if her behaviour has ever changed like this before; if so, I didn't notice it.

When I first first became aware of her behaviour changing on Friday evening, I puzzled over it; trying my best to figure it out.  All I could think of was the fact that it was the winter solstice -- the shortest day of daylight of the entire year.  So, Friday afternoon, as the sun shone brightly through the living room windows, Suki woke up and started playing with one of her toys, playing in the sunlight for quite some time.  The hour for her supper came and went and she showed no interest at all in eating.  I was just starting to really worry when she finally came to me, asking for food.

Since that time, she has spent much more time playing than sleeping -- especially when the sun is shining in the afternoon.  I really wonder if house-bound cats can tell when things shift and the daylight increases just a bit each day.  I have no other explanation for the change in Suki.  I will watch closely and see if this pattern continues and if any of you have ever witnessed something like this with your cat or dog, please let me know.  The strangest part is that things have changed so quickly from somnolence to activity -- maybe it is just something as simple as the sunshine we have had this week after days of no sun. 

As for me, you can see from the cartoon below -- which I created just for this occasion -- that things went well with my doctor's visit on the 21st.


He seems a very nice and competent man and I feel good about the upcoming surgery. 

I still don't know when the surgery will be; however, the doctor agrees that it should be sooner rather than later.  I will probably hear from his secretary regarding the date some time after Christmas and then I will let you all know as well.

It will be such a wonderful relief to be able to see normally again.  Actually, the surgeon said that not only do the bottom lids need to be fixed, but the top ones as well.  When he demonstrated how he would change things by holding my upper lids where they should be, I was amazed at the difference in my ability to see clearly.  Suddenly it felt so much better -- almost as though a weight had been removed from above my eyes.  Now I am actually looking forward to the surgery in hopes that I will be able to experience that comfortable feeling all the time!

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INSERT

For those of you looking for a unique last minute gift or two!
You will find here lots of creative works by Canadian artists, including my friend and excellent artist,
Rose Marie Nicolucci

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CONCLUSION

When I post again, both Christmas Day and Boxing Day will have passed for another year.  I pray that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be times of blessing for you all.  Happy Birthday, dear Lord Jesus.  Thank you Blessed Mother for saying YES.  Thank you St. Joseph for believing the angel and taking such good care of Our Lady and her precious Child.  Let us sing with the angels:  "Glory to God in the highest and peace to those of good will".  Amen.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Nativity 2012

Icon "The Nativity", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
It is difficult to believe that there is just one more posting I will make, God willing, before Christmas Day -- on the 23rd.  Today's posting is the last one I will do featuring icons prior to Christmas Day.  So, I decided it was time to talk about this year's Christmas icons.

For the first time, this year I ended up with two new icons of the Nativity.  Normally, I just have one which I have prepared to use for both my Christmas card and my icon calendar.  But this time I had two and couldn't decide which one to use.  Finally I made the decision to use both.  The icon above I decided to use for my Christmas card.  Below is a copy of the face of my "official" 2012 Christmas card.


2012 Official Christmas Card

Instead of trying to print the cards myself as I usually do, I decided this year to use Vistaprint as my publisher for my Christmas cards and my calendars -- both the icon calendar and the flower calendar.

 

I have been very pleased with their work in the past and continue to be pleased with the work they did for me this year.




The icon below (The First Kiss) I used for the month of December on my 2013 calendar.  Those of you who have either purchased an icon calendar or been on my birthday list for icon calendars can check December of next year and, hopefully, you will find the "First Kiss" icon there -- looking much as it does on the scanned page below.



Icon "First Kiss" in 2013 calendar (December)


As I stated above, each year since I began "writing" icons, I have had one Christmas/Nativity icon which I used throughout the Christmas Season.  I got myself in this predicament this year by not being completely satisfied with the first Nativity icon I undertook -- the "First Kiss".

I will have to be very careful in the coming year or else I might end up with three or four Nativity icons and then what will I do?!!



Icon "The First Kiss", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

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THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT

When Braden and his parents came to visit on Sunday and celebrate Christmas with me, I was so excited -- as you can imagine.  We exchanged gifts and I must say that Braden's parents truly gave me some wonderful presents -- one in particular -- but nothing that I unwrapped could even begin to compare with the joy of being able to see and hold Braden.  He is truly adorable -- growing quickly -- getting very strong muscles -- full of life and energy.  I must admit that being able to hold him and watch him with his parents was truly the best Christmas present of all.


This is the man of my dreams!




Here I am trying to hold on to a wiggle-worm!  He is at the stage of standing on his tip-toes and bouncing up and down on your legs.  He is already so strong.


The lighting on this photo is distorted because of the bright light behind Braden; however, I somehow feel that this kind of light makes the image more precious as it gives an almost ethereal glow to things.  And, oh my, was it ever nice to have him snuggle in my arms.

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My "Coming Home" Story

                                                                           (continued from previous posting)
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I could see a large crucifix hanging above the altar, but no sign of another human being. I begin to remember the horror stories I had heard while growing up about the Catholic Church and started to fearfully wonder if perhaps they had priests watching all the time and when a non-Catholic came into the Church they would kidnap them, feed them only bread and water until they were able to force them to become Catholic! What did I know?

Thankfully, about this time Loretta quietly came up behind me and called my name, asking me what I was doing. Her voice at my ear really startled me and it was a moment before I could speak. Then, I told her what I was feeling and asked her if there could be someone behind the altar watching us – from what I had heard about Catholics, it seemed to me to be a real possibility!

Loretta smiled and shook her head, saying quietly: “look around you, Sallie, obviously there is no one else in the Church but us.”

But I was not satisfied, the feelings were too strong and I whispered in reply: “I refuse to leave until I figure out what is going on.”

While we were standing there, I noticed that there was some kind of container sitting under the crucifix which had a golden top and was covered in a beautiful lace “skirt”. Hanging above and to the side of this golden thing was a candle in a deep red, glass container, burning brightly. I pointed towards the container, asking Loretta what that was for, thinking to myself that maybe it held some kind of hidden camera (remember, this was long before the high-tech world we live in today, but hidden cameras were the stuff of those early spy movies of the 1960s). I know all this business about cameras and hiding priests sounds terribly paranoid, but you must remember that I had grown up in a culture where I had been taught that Catholics were the enemy who, along with their "anti-Christ" pope, were trying to force us Protestants back into their religion full of terrible superstitions and demonic practices.

When Loretta saw where I was pointing, she quickly made the sign of the cross and softly said, "That is the Tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is kept."

"Where the what is kept," I responded?

"The Blessed Sacrament," she replied.

"What on earth is that?" I queried, thinking to myself “here is one of those superstitions I had been warned about.”

The words she next spoke changed my life forever.

(to be continued)

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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki's response when I try to awaken her!
Suki has been acting a bit strange the past week or so.  At first I thought that perhaps her behaviour was the result of there being so much company, coming and going, these past couple of weeks.  And while that is still a possible explanation, I am less inclined to accept this answer as the definitive one.  The reason I remain uncertain about what is going on with her is because she is behaving in this peculiar way even on days when just the two of us are here.

What exactly is the behaviour I am talking about?  It is Suki's apparent attempt to hibernate!  This is very puzzling behaviour -- first, because cats do not hibernate and second, because it hasn't even been that cold outside.  But every time I turn around lately, I find her curled up in a tight ball, usually in her bed,  lost in a deep, deep sleep.  When I attempt to awaken her, she opens her eyes ever so slightly, seeming to say "why are you bothering me?" and then immediately going back to sleep. 

Three or four times a day she does awaken to eat.  In the past when she would be ready to eat, I could satisfy her with a small serving of her food.  Now, however, she wants a big serving of food.  If I try to get away with one of those small servings, she will eat that and then put herself back in my way, almost tripping me, until finally I feed her again in self defence! 

Once she has eaten as much food as she can "worry" me into giving her, she returns to her bed.  After a thorough bath, she settles down and falls back into that deep sleep for hour after hour until her internal clock tells her it is time to eat again.  She rarely plays anymore even when I try to entice her with some of her favourite toys.

So, what can be happening?  She seems to be healthy in every way I can measure such things.  She can also be very affectionate still although this occurs less frequently due to all the sleep she seems to require.  If she were older, I could put it down to old age, but she is still relatively young.  If any of you "cat people" out there have any suggestions, please pass them along.  At the present, I am worried that I may awaken one morning to find I have a small black "bear" wearing Suki's collar and sleeping at the foot of my bed!

Now, as for me, everything remains basically the same.  The 21st is almost upon us which means I will finally see the surgeon about my eyelids.  I do remain hopeful that he will see the need to correct my eyelids as urgent since it is causing me so much discomfort.  I am just trying to leave it with God, trusting that He will provide me with exactly what I need.

As for the other nerves in my face, there seems to be little, if any, improvement.  As we reach the two month mark, I am trying to accept the loss of nerve sensation on the sides of my face and around my ears and eyes plus my droopy lower lip.  All of these I can live with fairly easily as they do not interfere with normal activities -- although they do make me look a bit funny.

I am really hopeful that once my eyes are repaired, I will be able to regain my feeling of well-being and maybe even return to the gym soon after that.  My friend, Karen, has predicted that I will be back at the gym by the end of January.  That is a prediction that I hope will come true.

Speaking of predictions, I gather that there are some people out there who actually believe that the world is coming to any end on the 21st!  Is that right?  According to our Lord, no one knows the day or hour other than God Himself and He has shown no signs of sharing that information!!

May the peace of God be with us all so that no matter what happens in the days ahead, we can trust Him to shelter us under the "shadow of His wings" (Ps. 91).  And, as we draw ever closer to the end of Advent and the beginning of the 12 Days of Christmas, perhaps those of us who are Christians (Catholic or otherwise) should ponder this question:  "what am I planning on giving our Lord Jesus for Christmas" -- after all, it is His birthday, isn't it?

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Floral Inversion

"Flame Lily or Glory Lily (Gloriosa)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

The column today is less about the name and nature of the flowers presented but more about the qualities of "inversion" as an art form.

Do you recall the email conversation I had with an artist in the States asking me to contribute to her web site which displays "inversion" as a legitimate art form.  When she first approached me, I was somewhat taken aback because I had never thought of it that way.  For me it was simply a process by which I could, on the computer, show what the colours of a drawing would look like if they were inverted.  Sometimes the process pleased me and at other times I was left feeling that the combination of colours simply was not that interesting.

At any rate, I have finally decided to make a serious contribution to the web site -- if my invitation of several months ago is still open -- and I am showing you what I plan to contribute before I submit.  Feel free to send me any comments about whether you think this is wise or foolish -- or whatever!

First, then, I want to show you this new drawing of the Flame Lily (Gloriosa).  As you will see below, this is my second attempt at drawing this flower.  The older drawing below shows an actual flower in full bloom while this drawing (immediately above and below) shows a very stylized flame lily in the process of blooming.  I actually find the inverted form of this drawing to be more interesting to me than the inverted form of the flower in full bloom.  I also really like the stylized version in its simplicity of design.


"Flame Lily or Glory Lily (Gloriosa) inversion", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Below is the Flame Lily in full bloom.  I did this drawing originally in 2009 and had actually forgotten about it until I decided to draw the Glory or Flame Lily (at the top) and realized that the forms were similar to something else I had drawn.  At first I searched for my drawing under the name of "Flame Lily" and found nothing.  Finally I realized that the name "Glory Lily" reminded me of the word "Gloriosa".  When I searched under that name, I found my drawing as well as the inverted copy.


"Gloriosa superba (Flame Lily in full blossom)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

Below you see what happens with the inversion technique.  Somehow, I find this attempt at inversion to be the least interesting of the three samples giving here.  The original is so richly coloured that the inverted version seems boring by comparison.  I guess that all these reds and greens and yellows can't help but turn into blues, purples and aquamarine.


"Gloriosa superba (Flame Lily in full blossom) inversion", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009


Recently I came across a number of photographs of the Romulea luteoflora.  I was fascinated by the huge number of variations in a plant growing wild in the same general area of South Africa.  I can easily understand variations when the plant grows in different locations spread far apart, but growing in the same area...!  Anyway, I decided that that the version I wanted to draw looked the most like "Romulea luteoflora" (see below).  


"Romulea luteoflora (of South Africa"), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

After I had finished the drawing, I decided to see what it would look like with the colours inverted.  I really like the results -- almost better than the original.  The blue and white flowers look, to me, so fresh and clean.  What do you think?


"Romulea luteoflora (of South Africa) inversion", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Finally, I have to say, in all honesty. I find I cannot seriously accept inversion as a valid art form because for me, it is simply an afterthought -- a way of seeing what colours I can find hidden within a drawing when I invert those colours.  This is easily done on a computer and totally unlike the process where an artist actually paints the inverted colours in the original work in an effort to sort of shock the viewer into seeing objects in a different way.  If you go to this web site www.inversionism.com   or the blog at http://inversionism.com/blog  you will learn much more about inversion as an art form. 

UPDATE:  If you go to the link for Corpus Christi Church in Detroit and click on the "bulletin" button, you will see on page 3 the mention of my name in the article by Deacon Paul Mueller.  Then, if you go to (un-numbered) page 9, you will find there an article about me.  While there is nothing in the article that you don't already know, you may enjoy seeing it nonetheless.  Go to:  http://www.corpuschristi-Detroit.org/


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My "Coming Home" Story


Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, photo taken in her early 20's
(Continued from previous posting)
Shortly after I was hired, a recent graduate was also hired. Her name was Loretta and we became fast friends.

As I got better acquainted with her, I began to ask more and more questions about her Catholic faith. I was fascinated. I had never heard such incredible things before -- especially her claims that Christ was truly present in their Holy Communion!  Everyone knew that the Communion service was just symbols, not the real thing! Slowly, I began to think that maybe there might be some truth to what she was saying. I must admit that I was probably also attracted because I knew I was dabbling with something forbidden, something I had to keep hidden from my family!

One day when we were travelling home from work, Loretta said she wanted to stop by St. Paul’s Co-Cathedral and “make a visit”. I really did not understand what this meant but assumed this was her way of referring to visiting the Church to pick up a bulletin or something. Once we arrived there –- my first time ever in a Catholic Church –- Loretta immediately knelt down to pray while I wandered around the church in awe and amazement. What a glorious place to worship God. It seemed almost like Heaven to me with it soaring ceilings and beautiful stained-glass windows. The afternoon sun slanting sideways into the church through those windows bathed everything in a soft, multi-coloured light. I had truly never seen anything like this before in my entire life.

As I became quiet inside, I begin to feel as though someone was watching me and there seemed to be a voice calling to me quietly just beyond the range of hearing. I looked back at Loretta, but her head was bowed in prayer -- so it obviously wasn't her. 

The feeling continued and whoever or whatever it was seemed to be located somewhere near the front of the Church. I moved slowly in that direction until I was standing right at the altar rail (this was pre-Vatican II and the altar rails had not yet been removed. Now many churches are thinking about bringing them back, thanks be to God!). I was convinced that someone was watching me and whispering my name but there was no one there.  Was I having a nervous breakdown?  What was happening?

 (To be continued)


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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki enjoying her favourite activity, after eating, that is!
I look up from my desk and what do I see?  I see a round cat bed attached to the top of a tall cat tree. 

Then, if I look even more closely what do I see?  I see what appears to be a black, furry lump barely visible above the sides of the cat bed. 

If I quietly stand up what will I see?  I will see that the black, furry lump has little pointy ears. 

If I then cough loudly what will I see?  I will see two eyes open ever so slightly before closing again and a black, furry, tail that will twitch ever so slightly, once or twice before being still again. 

The most amazing part of all this is the fact that even though no words were spoken or sounds made, I will be left with the distinct impression that someone said: "Quiet!  Can't you see that someone is trying to sleep!"

And, indeed, that is exactly what Suki is doing at the moment.  As I type these words, however, I am trying to do so very quietly -- not just because Suki would look at me with those half-closed eyes should I make too much noise, rather I do so because I am typing on "borrowed" time, so to speak. 

What I mean is that it is almost Suki's supper time and usually by now she is sitting on the desk next to my  shoulder, purring, rubbing her head against my arm, occasionally even trying to pat my fingers with her paw -- doing all these things over and over again until I am so distracted that all I am doing is making typos.  Then, she knows, I will get so disgusted that while I may call her names and say nasty things about her and her family tree, I will, nonetheless, get up from the desk, go into the kitchen and give her what she has wanted all along -- food -- something she loves even more than sleep!

So, while Suki sleeps on for the moment, I will quickly try to finish today's posting telling you how I am doing.  I am continuing to do much the same:  discomfort and problems related to nerve trauma or damage -- only time will tell which. 

I am less than a week now from the 21st -- the date when I hope to find out if and when there might be some way to fix my eyelids so that I can use my eyes normally once again.  All the other small signs of disfigurement caused by nerve damage I can live with peacefully, but not having proper use of my eyes simply because my eyelids will not close as they should.  This is something I think can be fixed and I plan to pursue this goal aggressively -- unless the Lord, Himself, should tell me otherwise, of course.

My biggest complaint at the moment, however are none of the things mentioned above.  No, instead I am complaining about an upset stomach due to the fact that a number of my dear friends ended up giving me delicious food stuffs for my birthday and I have been unable to resist trying them all and eating far too much.  One friend. Amra, brought me a decadently-delicious double, double chocolate cake.  This refrigerated cake is soooo rich and yet I have been able to consume several large pieces -- groan.   Please pray for me that I may be able to resist temptation.  I have given several large pieces of this delicious cake to friends, but, amazingly, the cake doesn't seem to get any smaller.  I am beginning to wonder if it was made with Devil's food chocolate!!!

Suki is beginning to stir so I had better get this finished.  I pray that the peace of God may surround us each and everyone as we get ever closer to the celebration of Christmas.  The day (and season) during which we remember the incredible truth that God broke into time through the YES of the Virgin Mary in order to teach us fully how much He loves each one of us -- even though we are sinners. 
Speaking of such matters, I would ask you all to please pray for the children and teachers who died yesterday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, USA.  "May the souls of the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace." 

Let us also pray for all the families and friends who are grieving right now as they try to come to terms with this tragedy.  Let us also pray for the police, firemen and rescue people who had to witness this carnage firsthand.  For so many of the survivors, Christmas will now be marked by this tragic memory.  Let us pray that through their faith in God, they will be comforted and experience God's peace even in the midst of their suffering.

Amen.